It was in 2009 when I first heard of Facebook, I was in Form 4 and looking forward to the end of my secondary school career. Having had a computer lab introduced to our school the previous year, spending time on the internet whenever possible had become a favourite past time of our class. Stalking the previous Form 4 class which was now out in the “world” was top of the list. I graduated secondary school, went home and back into the dark ages. The phone I had at the time was a basic one with SMS being the highlight. I only went online when I was at either one of my parents’ workplaces or at my aunt’s house. A few friends had started to create Facebook accounts by then and I would use their accounts to search for people I knew. I was a holdout, I did not like the idea of having a Facebook account.
College happened and with 2 friends we created a fake Facebook account which we used to stalk and send Facebook requests to crushes, hilarious times. Not long after, I created my first personal Facebook account but rest assured it had a fake name and had celebs or animations for my profile picture instead of my perfectly good face. If a neuralizer existed, I would wipe everyone’s memory of my first Facebook name, yes it was that bad. From the very beginning, I was never truly comfortable with social media and that discomfort remains to this day. Part of the reason I created a Facebook account under a fake name was because I did not want people to find me. I am grateful that I discovered Instagram and Twitter after their heyday. I am on my second Twitter account and probably fourth personal insta account with another public one. The theme remains the same, I was never comfortable with posting pictures and did not see the point which is why I never maintained an Instagram account for long previously.
I know that my not being a fan of social media makes me look at them more unfavourably than favourably. I grew up in a time when social media did not exist and honestly all things considered, I think it was better that way. This is not to say that social media does not have its positives but I find the negatives to be of more consequence. One of the things that bugs me about social media is that I think that we have lost our sense of privacy and identity without these platforms. I am wary of what social media is doing to our brains, lives and society on a larger scale. Was it an experience if I did not take pictures and post? Which influencer is doing what? How do I get likes or become an influencer? The post with the most likes wins is probably by far one of the things I dislike about social media platforms. It is no longer about the best writing, the best art or who did the most but whoever get the most likes. We forget that humans are individuals full of preferences and biases and who knows who. So are we promoting talent or popularity?
Currently I use Twitter more than any other platform and I hate the way some discourse occurs. On Twitter Malawi for instance, there are some people who are viewed more favourably than others which means anything they say basically goes unless if it is something very offensive. You cannot put one foot wrong or you will be the main character of the day with everyone flinging their opinions left, right and center. Now I get that using social media comes with its own set of rules and regulations but I find that we are caught between saying our true opinion on an issue versus espousing a popular opinion which will get more likes. I find this quite damaging in the long run because at the end of the day are you you or the person with the most likes and retweets.
I think it is quite important to use these platforms with a grain of salt. I am still trying to figure out how to beat my Twitter addiction as I write this. I have resorted to highly curating my feed to make sure I only see things that are likely to benefit me or help me think. I do not like posting on any of the platforms that I am on because I do not want to get sucked into the who liked my post or how many likes I have vortex. I would rather check out if there are any writing or job opportunities, what events are happening in my area or perhaps some food and fashion ideas and that’s about it. Social media is here to stay and I think it is best to build a healthy relationship with it and if someone has figured out how to do this, please let me know.